This book presents a sixteenth-century Philippine ethnography based on contemporaneous sources. It does not attempt to reconstruct that society by consideration of present Philippine societies, or of features believed to be common to all Austronesian peoples. Nor does it seek similarities with neighboring cultures in Southeast Asia, though the raw data presented should be of use to scholars who might wish to do so. Rather, it seeks to answer the question: What did the Spaniards actually say about the Filipino people when they first met them? It is hoped that the answer to that question will permit Filipino readers today to pay a vicarious visit to the land of their ancestors four centuries ago.
Part 1 describes Visayan culture in eight chapters on physical appearance, food and farming, trades and commerce, religion, literature and entertainment, natural science, social organization, and warfare. Part 2 surveys the rest of the archipelago from south to north.
WILLIAM HENRY SCOTT (1921-1993), distinguished scholar and leading historian on the Cordilleras and prehispanic Philippines, graduated with a BA in Chinese language and literature from Yale, an MA in Church History from Columbia, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Santo Tomas. In 1994 the Ateneo de Manila gave Scott (posthumously) the Tanglaw ng Lahi Award for a whole life "spent in teaching not only in the classroom but also the outside world by means of the broad reaches of his contacts and communication, and most of all through his hundreds of published scholarly articles and inspirationals which continue to disseminate and teach honest Philippine history to succeeding generations of Filipinos.